United States District Court, Western District of Virginia, Roanoke Division
Hon. Glen E. Conrad, Chief United States District Judge.
This matter is presently before the court on the defendant's motion to dismiss the plaintiffs pro se complaint for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, pursuant to Rule 12(b)(1) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, and for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. For the following reasons, the court will grant the defendant's motion.
The pro se plaintiff, Matter Forgods Production, initially filed this lawsuit against D. Svirsky and Erin Smither in the Montgomery County General District Court in Christiansburg, Virginia. The plaintiffs complaint accuses Svirsky and Smither of causing her to sustain debt, "prevent afford childbirth, " "prevent invest, " "prevent car, " and "prevent diploma p.h.d." See Docket No. 1-1 at 4. The plaintiff seeks $132, 992.08 in damages, which appear to arise out of the decision of the Department of Veteran Affairs ("VA") to award the plaintiff disability for schizophrenia, effective September 30, 2010. Id. at 8. The VA's rating decision of February 18, 2014, however, proposed that the plaintiff be rated incompetent for VA purposes, which required that retroactive payments of her disability benefits be withheld until a decision was made on her competency. Id. at 6-7, 9-11. In a letter dated April 30, 2014, the VA notified the plaintiff that, based on the evidence, she was not competent for VA purposes. Docket No. 4 at 6. The VA therefore appointed Nancy Ingraham as her fiduciary. Id., Unhappy with this appointment, the plaintiff requested a change of fiduciary, which the VA denied on October 22, 2014. Id. at 7. The plaintiff appears to admit, however, that she has received retroactive benefits payments since her fiduciary was appointed. See Id. at 3.
On January 23, 2015, the United States filed a Notice of Substitution and Removal, removing the action to this court and substituting the United States as the sole defendant. See Docket No. 1. The United States then moved to dismiss the plaintiffs complaint. See Docket No. 5. The court notified the pro se plaintiff of this motion as required by Roseboro v. Garrison, 528 F.2d 309 (4th Cir. 1975), but the plaintiff failed to respond. The matter is now ripe for review.
Standards of Review
I. Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1)
Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1), a party may file a motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction over the subject matter. A plaintiff bears "the burden of proving that subject matter jurisdiction exists." Evans v. B.F. Perkins Co., 166 F.3d 642, 647 (4th Cir. 1999). When considering a motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(1), a court should "regard the pleadings as mere evidence on the issue, and may consider evidence outside the pleadings without converting the proceeding to one for summary judgment." Id. (internal quotation marks omitted). A court should grant the motion "only if the material jurisdictional facts are not in dispute and the moving party is entitled to prevail as a matter of law." Id. (internal quotation marks omitted). When a defendant asserts multiple defenses, "questions of subject matter jurisdiction must be decided 'first, because they concern the court's very power to hear the case.'" Owens-Illinois, Inc. v. Meade, 186 F.3d 435, 442 n.4 (4th Cir. 1999).
II. Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6)
Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2), a complaint "must contain ... a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." A complaint that "fail[s] to state a claim upon which relief can be granted" may be dismissed under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). A Rule 12(b)(6) motion tests the legal sufficiency of a complaint; it does not "resolve contests surrounding the facts, the merits of the claim, or the applicability of defenses." See Butler v. United States, 702 F.3d 749, 752 (2012) (quoting Republican Party of North Carolina v. Martin, 980 F.2d 943, 952 (4th Cir. 1992)). When ruling on the defendant's motion to dismiss, a court must accept all facts alleged in the complaint as true, drawing all reasonable inferences in favor of the plaintiff. See Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009); Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007). The plaintiffs factual allegations need not be detailed, but she must offer more than "labels and conclusions" or a "formulaic recitation of the elements of [the] cause of action." Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). These facts must "be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level." Id.
"A document filed pro se is to be liberally construed, and a pro se complaint, however inartfully pleaded, must be held to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers." Erickson, 551 U.S. at 94 (internal citations and quotation marks omitted). The requirement of liberal construction does not mean, however, that the court can ignore a clear failure in the pleading to "allege anything that even remotely suggests a factual basis for the claim." Weller v. DepT of Social Servs., 901 F.2d 387, 391 (4th Cir. 1990). Where a complaint fails to "give the defendant fair notice of what the . . . claim is and the grounds upon which it rests, " it should be dismissed. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 (internal quotation marks omitted).
The United States has moved to dismiss the plaintiffs claim for lack of subject matter jurisdiction and for failure to state a plausible claim for relief. The ...